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Showing posts from September, 2017

Google Drive File Stream - Coming Soon!!

Google Drive File Stream is a service provided by Google that allows you to access, save and work on files from Google Drive on your computer. It looks like a USB drive on your computer and it works like one - except you don’t need to carry anything around with you.

There are many benefits to using File Stream, including the unlimited amount of storage available and the ability to access your files anywhere at anytime. File Stream is being implemented across the Trust over the next few weeks, and you will be notified when it is ready for use at your school.

There are two training videos available to help you get started using Google Drive File Stream. The first video is aimed at anyone that isn’t yet familiar with Google Drive, this video shows you how easy it is to use this new drive opposed to using your memory stick - the process of saving files is pretty much the same!

The second part video shows how an existing user of Google Drive can use File Stream together - for en easier and…

Mozilla Thimble - the best way to understand HTML is....

Although when we talk about coding we often think students need to learn programming languages, getting to grips with the HTML (hypertext markup language) that is used to build the World Wide Web is probably one of the most useful and engaging places to work.
When I need to make a website, my current tool of choice is the new Google Sites setup because although it limits what I can do in many ways, it gets the job done and makes a multi-page site with all of the clutter behind the scenes that I shouldn't have to worry about taken care of. With the old Google Sites though I had the ability to dig underneath and manually add my own HTML code in to get the result "just so" - and that knowledge of learning to code in HTML has been incredibly useful to me. That's one reason, when we talk about students learning to code, that I am so passionate about teaching how to write your own web and understand HTML. Even if all you do is tweak that YouTube embed code to make it the …

iOS 11 new features

iOS 11 landed last week, and we've been putting it through its paces. Ignoring a couple of glitches that will soon be patched, it's a fantastic upgrade from 10 in our opinion - especially from a class teacher's point of view; and even more so when looking it at it through our Star Classroom lense.

Firstly, the Control Centre has been overhauled and combined with the App Launcher. Saves time, and also allows you to add your own buttons to the Control Centre. Nice.

Secondly, the Dock now has a space for recently used apps. Again, time-saving and far more practical especially when jumping between apps in front of a class. Speedy.

The best new features in our Star Classroom opinion? The ability to add markups to screenshots and photos. We are huge advocates of the importance of providing feedback to a class via the big screen at the front by using the iPad as a visualiser - but now with the ability to add markups, you can add written feedback to student's work on the big s…

eLearning for Everyone

Although our team does a lot of work in classrooms with teachers and students - it’s important to note that eLearning is useful for any role in the Trust. When technology is purposefully used, it can save you precious minutes or hours in a day and help you work more effectively.

Last week we issued a Governor Access to DRET Services video which demonstrated where to find key information and what services the Trust offers to help Governors in their role. We hope this video will help someone working in a governance role or similar to find access to information quicker, gain access to useful training materials, communicate with others in the Trust better and get updated news.  

The key message here is that without seeing or knowing about the eLearning services available, you won’t get the chance to use them or benefit from them. The eLearning team has created lots of videos to help staff with eLearning tools. So, if you’re interested in finding a new way of working or becoming more savvy …

Recommended Reading Lists

Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert

Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIEs) use Microsoft tools in the classroom and have learned the fundamentals of applying technology in education. 
This is the first step on an exciting journey of joining a professional network of enthusiastic educators who come together to learn, share, and grow.
Using Microsoft's online Educator Community, individuals can connect and collaborate, find training and lessons, and earn badges and certificates based on their achievements.

Here at DRET we have an increasing number of staff who have achieved the award of MIE which is fantastic, and great recognition of the skills our staff have.

Taking it further, Microsoft have an enhanced award called Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert:

Recognizing Innovation at Microsoft, we believe that technology alone cannot build 21st century skills in students. Technology is an accelerator, but alone it does not enable change. We believe in the power of the educator, and the impact educators can have when they are…

Fake News with X Ray Goggles

Understanding how the web is built, and that it is built by people is a vital part of digital literacy. The truth is something we need to find, not blindly believe from the first website in the search results. The Idea The idea of this activity is to help students understand the nature of news and information on the internet by presenting them with subtly different versions of web pages they may already know. As well as a good fun way to start to topic (Vikings Invade Northampton!) it can lead to discussion about how to cross-check information, a different kind of writing task where students rewrite popular websites and create highly credible stories of their own, or simply create engaging material to put old events into a modern context.

The ToolMozilla X Ray Goggles is a very simple tool that allows the user to remix a web page. They present it as part of the Foundation's work on digital literacy and creatively remixing the web (and include some lesson materials).

At the websit…

A feature on the features of our Featured Resources

We have previously blogged about our new Resource Library and it is gaining traction in our schools which is great.

The Resource Library is for DRET staff and students with a account, but those without such an account can still access our 'Featured Resources' pages. Each week we will feature some of the best resources that have been submitted by our talented teachers for the world to see.

This week's featured resource is an EdExcel GCSE History Unit on the American West, submitted by Miss Cooper of Malcolm Arnold Academy.

The folder is jam-packed full of lesson resources covering topics such as Billy the Kid, the Battle of Little Bighorn and The Gold Rush - 20 lessons of engaging content from a fascinating period of American history.

These resources are available for all!

To view these lesson materials, head over to and click on the featured resources pages. Stay tuned each week as we focus on a range of featured resources submitted by teach…

Challenge for eLearning

We value core professional development for all our staff - but we need more: we need something that allows the confident user of IT for teaching to really get to the next level and ensure consistently outstanding learning assisted by IT, and we need those people to help those around them too.

That was very much at the hear of Star Classroom and we've been fortunate to work with more than a hundred great people. Our Trust also runs a programme called Challenge for Outstanding (known as C4O) that has been really well received - creating communities of practice for people that are already confident and effective and want to develop further. So we have reviewed what we learned last year, and the best features of an already popular and proven programme to develop C4E or Challenge for eLearning.

There is a section of our staff professional development site for C4e and this week we're asking head teachers and professional tutors to consider who they may nominate. We're seeking st…

eLearning Certification and Awards website is live!

Our latest service offering - eLearning certifications and awards - has a brand new website. Drum roll please.......We are pleased to announce the website is now live!

Watch this short video for a brief run-down of what's on offer and how to find it:

And once you've given it a watch, head over to to see what CPD is on offer for DRET staff. Some offerings are online courses, some are face to face workshops - something for everyone we hope.

Head teachers have been emailed further details, so if you are interested in eLearning CPD for you or your team - speak to them and get in touch with the eLearning team to take things further!

DRET Teaching Resource Library deeper dive

A couple of days ago Guy posted an introduction to our new Resource Library. This post will hopefully give you more of an insight into what it is and how to use it.

This video should explain pretty much the basics to get started.

Plain and simply, DRET's new Resource Library is a collection of resources submitted by our Network of Star Classroom teachers across our academies which are downloadable and adaptable for staff and students across our academies.

The Resource Library can be found at and you can search by subject, which then takes you to a page where you can search by Key Stage. From there, you can see what resources have been submitted and download anything you want to use/adapt.

You need to be logged in to your account to view the folders of resources. If you are not logged in, or do not work for DRET, you can see a collection of our featured resources on the page of the same name.

From the Home page you can also access our eBook library an…

Google Keep

A few months ago we started blogging about Google Keep.

Google Keep is a fantastic app for note making, collecting thoughts, making to-do lists or reminders - and available on all your devices so you have them with you at all times, no matter where you are. Many people use Sticky Notes or similar ways to organise themselves - Google Keep takes it a step further.
Not only for personal organisation, but there are some fantastic ways Google Keep can be used in the classroom too - as it integrates with Google Docs, allows voice typing and inking on photographs, as well as acting as a roving classroom whiteboard.

In case you missed it, or are new to Keep. see all of our 'Week of Keep' posts and other Keep-related posts here. We still love it, and it is most definitely an app we use on a daily basis, both in and out of work.

The DRET Teaching Resource Library

Our teaching resources library is now open and continuously accumulating new material. Have a look at Ben will be doing a much deeper dive into how it works very soon, but this is a first look. If you aren't a member of staff at one of our academies you can see the site, but the folders with the resources in will appear blank - but you are able to see and use anything in the "Featured Resources" section.

As an organisation with 34 schools we have a lot of teaching resources.

The problem is how to make the best ones easily accessible.

Some lives on staff-shared drives at each academy, mingled together with admin material, resources that are for courses that no longer run and bought-in packs.

A lot lives on teacher's own laptops or external hard drives - and never get seen by colleagues.

What we're trying to do is make sense of all that and unlock the huge potential for time-saving and improving the quality of learning material in use.


Havelock Star Classrooms for Sixth

We're about to open our new Sixth Form centre at Havelock Academy. As with all the refurbishment and new build activity this summer from Bobby Moore Academy to new nursery provision to classrooms being refreshed, we've continued to roll out the Star Classroom design.

We now have five academies that are entirely fitted out with Star Classrooms in every teaching room - suddenly what was new in September 2016 is mainstream a year later!

New features in Class Dojo

We are HUGE fans of Class Dojo. We know our Star Classroom teachers are HUGE fans of Class Dojo - in both primary and secondary settings. So imagine our excitement at seeing the new features recently added!

The Class Dojo 'Toolkit' can be found in the app, and allows you to make random groups of students, display activity directions, turn on background music, use a noise meter, 'think pair share', plus a whole lot more.

First certificate issued!

We have been working hard over the summer setting up a series of eLearning Awards (a more in depth look at these will come in a later post) that allows us to run online eLearning training courses and issue certificates for face-to-face sessions; covering a wide range of eLearning CPD including eLearning tools, Online Safety and Data Protection.

Well, our first certificate has been issued! Congratulations to Miss King of Charles Read Academy who received the 'Google Drive Essentials' certificate today. There will be plenty more to come across our academies we are sure of that!

Head over to to see our awards pages, or claim an award if you have recently attended an eLearning session.
Please get in touch with the eLearning team if you want to arrange a training session for your DRET Academy, or require further information.

Our eBook library

DRET staff and students have access to a wide ranging and ever-growing selection of eBooks at or via a tile on the page.
What's great about the eBook library is that it complements our physical libraries our schools have, and allows students and staff to borrow and read on any device - computer, tablet or phone. Be it homework help, revision, reading for pleasure or further reading around a topic, there is plenty for everyone - and all ages.
Through our eLearning CPD training sessions, we are working with teachers across DRET in ways by which pages from eBooks can be annotated, utilised in lessons and used to enhance teaching resources for both in and away from the classroom - a really valuable resource.
Take a look at this video which explains how to borrow books from our eBook library: any device, any time.

This video is open to all for viewing. Our eBook library itself is only available to DRET staff and students with their log-ins. DRET s…

Welcome to

It's been a year since I started my role as an eLearning Lead with DRET, and what a year it's been! I've had the opportunity to lead on, and participate in, lots of training sessions, while visiting many classrooms and working with a host of talented teachers. It's incredible how you can show one example of how to use something new in the classroom, and subsequently see it being used and adapted a further dozen ways by different teachers. Throughout the year our team has been keeping notes on some of the best ideas we've come across, and we want to be able to share these ideas with everyone; thus, was born. is essentially a scrapbook of ideas in one website. You can search for particular tools or areas of development you are interested in learning more about, and see how other teachers have used these tools to make a difference in their classrooms. There are also other resources, such as how-to guides, training videos, and useful lin…

Save Miles This Year click with Appear.In

At the start of the school year, if you travel from site to site, now is the time to resolve to change your approach and use video conferencing more to replace those journeys. We use video conferencing for our meetings and have found it invaluable for both replacing longer meetings with several shorter ones (because the effort required to get together is less, we can meet more often) and running extended meetings where we dip in and out of the meeting whilst working on something else - especially good when planning or working on material.

Here is a video from showing how to use - a brilliant free video conferencing tool.

and from our archives... here is an article from last year on the use of video to link classrooms.

There are so many possible uses for simple video conferencing in class - whether it be to speak to another group of students, ask an expert or perhaps make a presentation to another group. Outside lessons use for webinars, meetings, moderation can all s…

What's new for 2017-18

The new academic year is upon us, and the eLearning Team have been busy little beavers during the summer. We are excited for this year - check out this video made using Powtoon to see what's new in 2017!

 For more information about anything in the video, please get in touch with the eLearning Team. It's going to be a great year! users can see all of our videos on the Training Channel of DRET.TV

Autumn 2017 News

Welcome back from the summer break - we hope you had a restful time and are ready for another academic year. Here are a few of the highlights of the changes for this year.
We never expected the take-up of our video sharing site to be quite so good last year, but we're pleased to announce that we've been able to move everything over to a new system over the summer called Microsoft Stream. It is basically still the same idea, but there some new tools for the people that manage channels and everything is much more slick.

If you ran a channel you should have heard from us with details of how to access and upload material. If you're a viewer, hopefully it will be simple and obvious to use - you'll find the search feature works very well. Head over to to see more (login required). If you aren't a member of staff or student at one of our schools you can dip into a selection of material at

Tips for Teachers

Last year we have several websit…

Operations Team Training: Google Drive and Meetings

We met with our new Operations Team members yesterday as part of the switchover to shared services across our academy network. Operations staff are now working in a situation where they want to collaborate more closely across schools and make the very best use of the technology available to us in to get better work done more easily. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly we focused on for working across the miles more easily and the many tools in Google Drive that will help such as document and folder sharing, revision history and assigning tasks and notes within comments.

Rather than rewrite everything said, I thought this blog post from Yasmin last term would be a useful set of tips and ideas to share as a follow up:
The process of holding a meeting can become very long-winded, from organising the agenda to writing up the meeting minutes and distributing, and then the process after whereby everyone starts to feedback and share the outcome for the actions they were set. You can e…

Star Classroom Video

2016-17 was a really busy year - we were fortunate to have the chance to get together with some colleagues at Greenfield's Primary School to look back and pick out some of the key features of the Star Classroom programme and made a short film about it.

Of course if you've found the video on this blog you're in the right place to get much deeper into what Star Classroom is all about - and there is more than we managed to get across in those few minutes.

We've made quite a strong statement about what we think is the right good value set up for one of our classrooms, and after a year and more than 150 installations we haven't changed our mind (we have in fact tried a few different approaches but keep coming back to the simple concept of a big touchscreen, a hidden PC and an iPad).Vitally important is the training and professional development network to go with it. Without a doubt that is what is making the greatest difference. The section with the headteacher about two…

Google Earth updates

We have some exciting things planned with regards to exploring the world from the comfort of the classroom - more to follow on that over the next few weeks - but one really useful addition to any classroom device is the updated Google Earth.

A few months ago this major update arrived on Android but it has recently been added to iOS too meaning iPads can receive the update, and it looks a great one.

It's a 64-bit app meaning it will be supported when iOS 11 arrives. A major new feature is the 'Voyager' feature which allows you to see interactive stories from destinations around the world and gives virtual tours of places around the world - great to reinforce Geography or Topic lessons with visual images and 360 degree flyovers!

There are a myriad of uses for this application in the classroom, and coupled with the other plans we have in the pipeline, up our sleeves and in development for exploring the world without leaving the classroom, it looks like it's going to be a …